Awesome History

The Evolution of macOS

The Evolution of macOS

Apple released its first Macintosh computer back in 1984, running one of the earliest graphical user interfaces for personal computers. The guys at Nobel Tech put together a retrospective of every version of the Macintosh operating system, from its first public release, System 0.97 to the latest version of macOS 12, Monterrey.

Why Upper and Lower Case Letters Exist

Why Upper and Lower Case Letters Exist

We’re grateful to have lower case letters, if only to limit people typing in ALL CAPS. The Generalist Papers digs into the history of letterforms in the English language on a quest to explain why we have two different versions of every character in the alphabet.

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Dead as a Doornail Explained

Dead as a Doornail Explained

We’ve all heard the expression “dead as a doornail,” but we certainly didn’t know its origin. History and weapon enthusiast Malcolm P.L. explains the true meaning of the phrase while demonstrating the building technique that inspired it.

The Legend of YouAreAnIdiot

The Legend of YouAreAnIdiot

In the early 2000s, a website made the rounds that wreaked havoc on many computers, slowing them to a crawl as attempts to close its Flash animated windows only spawned more windows. NationSquid looks back at the story of YouAreAnIdiot and why it drew curious internet users like moths to a flame.

The History of Orchestras (More or Less)

The History of Orchestras (More or Less)

Orchestras have been around for hundreds of years. But why is it that certain instruments can be in an orchestra and others aren’t? Why do they have so many strings? Composer and educator David Bruce answers these and other questions about the origins of orchestras in this good-humored history lesson.

Ridiculous Fashion Trends Throughout History

Ridiculous Fashion Trends Throughout History

Shoulder pads, bell-bottoms, and slap bracelets are a few of the sillier fashion trends we can think of, but as BlueJay’s video points out, those are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the kinds of stupid fads that gained popularity over the years. It’s only a matter of time before the Macaroni look makes a comeback.

The iPhone Before the iPhone

The iPhone Before the iPhone

The first iPhone was released in 2007. But it was far from the first attempt to create a touchscreen smartphone. Slidebean explains how an Apple spin-off called General Magic helped lay the groundwork for modern smartphones back in 1994. While their ideas had promise, they made a few critical errors which did them in.

The History of Pad Thai

The History of Pad Thai

With its mix of stir-fried noodles, protein, peanuts, veggies, and zesty condiments, pad thai is one delicious dish. Mental Floss series Food History delves into the relatively short history of the popular dish. While it was touted as Thailand’s national dish, its ingredients and origins came from other countries.

10 Long Lost Treasures

10 Long Lost Treasures

From fabled stashes of pirate’s booty to irreplaceable reels of film and works of art, there are some very special treasures waiting out there to be discovered. Join Mental Floss editor and host Erin McCarthy as she gets out her shovel and digs for some of the world’s most elusive artifacts.

The Dark History of Sea Monkeys

The Dark History of Sea Monkeys

Touted by toymakers as instantly-hatching beings running a tiny civilization, Sea Monkeys are just brine shrimp. Hank Green and Journey to the Microcosmos offer their close-up take on the weird history of these novelty sea creatures. Interested in learning more? We recommend the Stuff You Should Know episode on the topic.

The History of Disney’s Handwich

The History of Disney’s Handwich

For as many things that Disney has succeeded at, they’ve had their fair share of failures too. Kevin of Defunctland takes a look at one such flop, a one-handed sandwich that was basically a savory waffle cone, “The Handwich.” He then flips from Documentarian Mode to Chef Mode to replicate the cone-shaped sandwich.

The Tale of Tiffany

The Tale of Tiffany

The name “Tiffany” became wildly popular back in the 1980s. But the name came to be long before the I Think We’re Alone Now singer. Learn about the origins of the name and its history over the years in only the way that CGP Grey can tell a story.

Ronald McDonald: A Life

Ronald McDonald: A Life

(PG-13: Language) For decades, Ronald McDonald was one of the world’s most recognized brand mascots. But something happened when 2016 hit, and the once-ubiquitous character all but vanished from the scene. Ordinary Things recalls the history of the burger clown, from his creepy early beginnings to his eventual downfall.

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Weird Old Predictions

Weird Old Predictions

While many considered Nikolai Tesla to be a genius, he also had some pretty outlandish ideas, like the notion that we would stop drinking coffee by the 21st century. Mental Floss editor Erin McCarthy explores this and a number of other wacky predictions that have yet to come true, among them, undersea buses propelled by whales.

The History of Animatronic Restaurants

The History of Animatronic Restaurants

Restaurants like Showbiz and Chuck E. Cheese’s were staples of suburban childhood in the ’80s and ’90s. Beyond the arcades and mediocre pizza, these places also featured audio-animatronic musicians. Snellby Reviews looks back at the history of these restaurants, and their sad fate in the 2000s. Part two here.

Misconceptions About Vikings

Misconceptions About Vikings

Mention the word “Vikings” and it conjures up images of burly warriors with horned helmets, laying waste to all who stood in their way. But as Justin from Mental Floss explains, most modern conceptions about these feared Norsemen are totally wrong.

Evolution of The New York Times

Evolution of The New York Times

The New York Times has been publishing the news since September 1851. In this fascinating and hypnotic 2017 video by Josh Begley, he offers up a visual history of the newspaper through the design of its front page. We’d love to see this updated on an annual basis. Best watched in 4K.

Best-selling Songs 2010 to 14,000 BC

Best-selling Songs 2010 to 14,000 BC

Did you know that Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You was the best-selling song of the 2010s? Nope? Us either. Comedians Adrian Gray and Archie Henderson presents what starts out as a serious reverse-chronological listing but quickly descends into madness as things take a wrong turn between Cher and The Bee Gees.

A Brief History of the Devil

A Brief History of the Devil

From his horns to his red suit to his pitchfork, we all have a pretty specific image in our minds of what The Devil looks like. In this TED-Ed video by educator and Episcopal priest Brian A. Pavlac, he delves into the origins of the ultimate evil dude and his various depictions over the years.

America: The Motion Picture

America: The Motion Picture

Netflix offers up a completely inaccurate history lesson on the origins of the U.S., in which a foul-mouthed, chainsaw-wielding George Washington leads the founding fathers. Voiced by Channing Tatum, Jason Mantzoukas, Olivia Munn, Judy Greer, Killer Mike, Bobby Moynihan, Raoul Max Trujillo, and more. Drops 7.30.2021.

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A Brief History of PEZ

A Brief History of PEZ

Like many people, we enjoy collecting PEZ dispensers. Sure, the candy bricks that come inside them aren’t that exciting, but it’s the characters and dispensing mechanism that makes them fun. PEZ looks back at its own history, and explains how it got its start making peppermints. See also: How PEZ are made.

Flamethrower.

Flamethrower.

Ahoy is back with another of their great, deadpan videos about weaponry. This time, they provide a in-depth look at the fiery death-dealers known as flamethrowers, and their appearances in video games, movies, TV, and real-life combat. We had no idea flamethrower tanks were a thing.

The History of French Fries

The History of French Fries

We love us some nice crispy French fries. Mental Floss host Justin Dodd digs into the origins of this fast food staple, its varieties, and why it’s become one of the most popular side dishes on earth. Along the way, you’ll enjoy a snack of potato chips and Tater Tots.

Why Plastic Exists

Why Plastic Exists

In the early 1900s, electricity was about to take the world by storm. But live wires couldn’t safely be used without insulation. Resin harvested from insects worked, but was too expensive to harvest. Necessity being the mother of invention, it drove chemist Leo Baekeland to develop what would become the world’s first plastic.

Banned and Recalled Toys

Banned and Recalled Toys

Over the years, there have been numerous cases where toys got pulled off of the shelves. As part of his amazing Toy History series, Ed’s Retro Geek Out delves into some of the times when a toy vanished because of safety, consumer complaints, or other reason, in some cases, turning them into rare collectibles.

Why Salt and Pepper Go Together

Why Salt and Pepper Go Together

In many parts of the world, using salt and pepper to season foods is as ubiquitous as the duo of ketchup and mustard. But how did this pairing of two very different seasonings rise to such popularity? BBC Ideas series Edible Histories provides a brief backgrounder on the flavorful combo.

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